As is claimed on the Scottish International Storytelling Festival website, ‘storytelling is play’. This seemingly simple statement is surprisingly difficult to execute, especially in a 90-minute aural performance.
However, uncle and nephew due Peter Chand and PKCtheFirst were the embodiment of this notion; they employed a huge variety of performance tropes to deliver their stories. This storytelling experience was especially personal, as the family duo gathered their tales from the South Asian Community. There was even the suggestion that some of them have remained untold for 50 years. That these interpersonal relationships were so pertinent to the storytelling gave the evening a tangibly intimate quality; it felt a privilege to be allowed to bear witness to these collected tales.
Brushing off the proverbial cobwebs from these tales, the pair promised to deliver ‘traditional Indian storytelling with Urban Hip Hop’. The unique blend of tradition and modernity permeated every element of the performance, as the duo capitalised on novel methods of storytelling to make a piece that was a true delight to watch.
The event was comprised of a series of unconnected mini-tales, creatively reimagined through a blend of Punjabi and English. Chand truly excelled when telling comedic stories; he frequently broke the fourth wall and came out of character with witty anecdotal references. The highlight of the night was Chand’s refiguring of a tale featuring a dancing monkey; he picked up a Chimta and sang and danced around the stage to entertainingly retell the story. Judging by the raucous laughs from the audience, this was a highlight for all.
The series of stories weren’t entirely upbeat, though; although the stories were generally comedic, they often drew on grotesque themes – included in the stories were a body covered in thorns, a cannibal-esque demonstration of love and six sisters being devoured by Jackals. This skilful amalgamation ensured the audience remained captivated, and meant that the comedic moments were especially important; providing relief as well as humour.
Using a mixture of musical genres, PKCtheFirst did an excellent job of underscoring the show. The musical backdrop provided, at times, an ambient underpinning highlighting the mood of the story being told. It also provided a refrain, ensuring that the story was easy to follow. The music became an integral plot device; as the storytelling reached its climax, the music reached an alarming crescendo.
The event adopted the qualities of a parable when, after the storytelling was complete, Chand urged the audience to visit elderly relatives or acquaintances and listen to their stories. With this plea, he was able to take the show from the individual to the holistic, using his impressive storytelling capabilities to highlight the importance of listening to, as well as sharing, stories. And that, if nothing else, is what the Storytelling Festival is all about.
Tongue Tied & Twisted – Indian Tales; Contemporary Twist
The Scottish International Storytelling Festival runs until 31 October
Photo credit: Dee Patel
Find out more about Peter Chand and upcoming performances here